What are my rights if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

The amount of compensation you could be due will depend on the length of the flight and how much its arrival was later than scheduled. Credit: PA

Flight delays or cancellations can play havoc with a well planned weekend break or a longed for family holiday.

Latest analysis of some of the UK's largest commercial airports has revealed Gatwick to be the worst performing in this metric last year, with average delays of nearly 27 minutes.

At the other of the table, Belfast City (George Best) was found to be the best performing, averaging flight delays of 12-and-a-half minutes.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled you could be due compensation. So, what are your rights? ITV News explains.

What are my rights if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

Under UK law, those affected by flight delays or cancellations have legal rights which oblige airlines to provide support to customers flying from a UK airport, arriving in the country on a European Union (EU) or UK airline, or arriving at an EU airport on a UK airline.

If your flight is covered under UK law, your airline must give you the option of choosing another flight or providing a full refund. You can get money back on any part of the ticket not used.

If you still want to travel, your airline must find you an alternative flight. If another airline is flying to your destination significantly sooner, or there are other suitable modes of transport available, then you have a right to be booked onto that alternative transport instead.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), an airline must provide a reasonable amount of food and drink in the case of a "significant delay".

What is classed as a significant delay?

  • More than two hours for a short-haul flight of under 1,500km (932 miles)

  • More than three hours for a medium-haul flight of up to 3,500km (2,175 miles)

  • More than four hours for long-haul flights

This usually comes in the form of vouchers, but if an airline cannot provide food and drink or voucher equivalent for whatever reason, customers can make their own "reasonable" arrangements and keep their receipts to claim the money back.

This can include not just food and drink, but also the cost of calls, accommodation and transport to a hotel or home. The CAA adds that "luxury hotels and alcohol" are unlikely to be covered.


Want a quick, expert briefing on the biggest stories of the day? Listen to What You Need To Know...


Can I claim compensation?

Airlines are required to pay compensation if flights arrive more than three hours late, but only when it is deemed to be within their control.

For example, a fault with the aircraft or pilot sickness.

Causes of disruption classed as outside their control include severe weather, air traffic control restrictions and security alerts.

The amount of compensation you could be due will depend on the length of the flight and how much its arrival was later than scheduled. This works out as follows:

  • For flights under 1,500km (932 miles): £220 for a delay of at least three hours

  • For flights between 1,500km (932 miles) and 3,500km (2,175 miles): £350 for a delay of at least three hours

  • For flights over 3,500km (2,175 miles): £260 for a delay of at least three hours but less than four hours

  • For flights over 3,500km (2,175 miles): £520 for a delay of at least four hours


Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…